Gary Susman
April 20, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Can MTV’s ”TRL” get viewers as interested in Bush vs. Kerry as they are in Britney vs. Avril? The network thinks so, and so do the Republican and Democratic National Committees. Both political parties are offering viewers about five minutes of fame, via a contest whose winners will get to address the delegates at this summer’s conventions, on primetime TV.

To enter, you have to be a registered voter aged 18 to 24, and you have to submit a 300-word essay that encourages young people to get involved politically. The Republican contest, called ”Stand Up and Holla!”, asks contestants to answer the question, ”Why is the President’s call to community service important and how have you demonstrated it?” The Democratic ”Speak Out for the Future” contest asks entrants to answer the question, ”Why should politics be important to youth and how can youth get more involved in the political process?” Each party’s convention website, and will process contest entries and will later allow the public to vote on 10 finalists. The two winners will be announced on ”TRL” and will be flown to New York for the GOP convention (Aug. 30-Sept. 2) or the Democratic convention in Boston (July 26-29).

The contests dovetail with MTV’s quadrennial ”Choose or Lose” campaign that encourages young people to vote. (In the 2000 election, only 8.4 million of the 20 million eligible voters ages 18 to 30 did so, the Associated Press reports.) Maybe the network should try to get Bush and Kerry to appear more on shows like ”Cribs”; we understand that they both have pretty nice mansions.

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